[Joint Statement] In solidarity with Thailand’s peaceful democracy movement

    (Jakarta, 22 October 2020) ‒ We, 60 organisations across Asia, stand in solidarity with the peaceful democracy movement in Thailand as it continues to push for fundamental freedoms and democratic reforms, in the midst of government repression.

    The Government of Thailand should abide by its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to respect and protect the people’s rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

    We assert that the ‘State of Severe Emergency,’ announced on 15 October 2020 violated international human rights standards, and failed to meet the principles of legality, necessity, proportionality.[1]

    We condemn the use of the ‘national security’ narrative to block these peaceful protests, as well as the attempts to portray the movement and its leaders as a threat to national security and to the stability of the nation.

    We further condemn the use of police violence, including the use of water cannons on 16 October 2020 against peaceful protesters, which included high school and university students.[2]  This fails to meet OHCHR’s guidance which states that water cannons are advisable for use only for situations ‘of serious public order where there is a significant likelihood of loss of life, serious injury or the widespread destruction of property.’[3]

    The continuous arrests and the use of judicial harassment against human rights defenders are unjustifiable, and serve no other purpose than to instil fear and to promote reprisals against the movement. The arrested protesters and its leaders should be immediately and unconditionally released

    We likewise condemn the use of intimidation and reprisals against social media users who have ’checked-in’ at protests sites, taken selfies, or posted about the protests on social media. On 19 October 2020, the Minister of Digital Information announced that they will investigate more than 300,000 URLs of social media accounts that have allegedly violated the Emergency Decree.[4]

    We are also gravely concerned about efforts to have media organisations Prachatai, the Standard, The Reporters, and Voice TV investigated for their reporting of the protests, as well as efforts to prevent them from reporting these events.[5] The role of journalism remains ever crucial in these times, and the government has the obligation to protect media freedom and independence. The right to access information is integral in the fulfilment of the people’s right to freedom of expression.

    We recognise that these tactics are also being used by other governments in the region to stifle social movements. These tactics violate international human rights standards, and have no role in any fair and just society.

    We call on the Government of Thailand to commit to the respect and protection of freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly. We urge the government to:

    • Refrain from any further use or announcement of orders and policies including under the Emergency Decree to hinder people’s ability to exercise their fundamental rights;
    • Immediately and unconditionally release all arrested Human Rights Defenders and protesters, drop all charges against them, and refrain from any further arrests, threats or intimidation;
    • End the use of police violence against protesters;
    • Respect the rights of children and youth to safely and peacefully express their opinions on issues that affect them;
    • Review or repeal draconian offences under the Criminal Code such as defamation and sedition, which have been used as tools of fear and reprisal;
    • Respect and support media independence and freedom, including through allowing local and international journalists to operate, without any interference or reprisals; and
    • Take genuine steps to address the structural violations being raised by the democracy movement.

    We call on the international community to stand in solidarity with Thailand’s democracy movement, and all our social movements in Asia in our pursuit of government accountability and the protection of human rights.


    1. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
    2. Action Committee for Democracy Development, Myanmar
    3. Another Alternative, Myanmar
    4. ASEAN SOGIE Caucus
    5. ASEAN Youth Forum
    6. Association for Law, Human Rights and Justice (HAK), Timor-Leste
    7. Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP), India Administered Jammu and Kashmir
    8. Association of Women for Awareness & Motivation (AWAM), Pakistan
    9. Athan, Myanmar
    10. BALAOD Mindanaw, the Philippines
    11. Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), India
    12. Bir Duino, Kyrgyzstan
    13. Bytes For All, Pakistan
    14. Center for Communication and Development Studies (CCDS), India
    15. Centre for the Sustainable Use of Natural and Social Resources (CSNR), India
    16. Child Rights Coalition Asia (CRC Asia)
    17. Dalit Foundation, India
    18. Dignity-Kadyr-kassiyet (Public Association Dignity), Kazakhstan
    19. Equality Myanmar, Myanmar
    20. Future Light Center, Myanmar
    21. Generation Wave, Myanmar
    22. Genuine People’s Servants, Myanmar
    23. Human Rights Defenders and Promoters Association, Myanmar
    24. Human Rights Foundation of Monland, Myanmar
    25. Human Rights Working Group (HRWG), Indonesia
    26. iDefend, the Philippines
    27. Indonesia Human rights Monitor (Imparsial), Indonesia
    28. Indonesia Legal Aid and Human Rights Association (PBHI), Indonesia
    29. Indonesia Legal Aid Foundation – Yayasan Lembaga Bantuan Hukum Indonesia (YLBHI), Indonesia
    30. Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM), Indonesia
    31. International Legal Initiative Public Foundation (ILI Foundation), Kazakhstan
    32. Karapatan Alliance Philippines, the Philippines
    33. Karenni Human Rights Group, Myanmar
    34. KontraS (Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence), Indonesia
    35. Korean House for International Solidarity (KHIS), South Korea
    36. Loka Ahlinn, Myanmar
    37. Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN), the Maldives
    38. Myanmar Cultural Research Society (MCRS), Myanmar
    39. Myanmar People Alliance (Shan State), Myanmar
    40. National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), Pakistan
    41. Nyan Lynn Thit Analytica, Myanmar
    42. Odhikar, Bangladesh
    43. Paung Ku, Myanmar
    44. People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR), India
    45. People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD), South Korea
    46. Philippine Collective for Modern Heroism and Active Vista (DAKILA), the Philippines
    47. Philippines Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), the Philippines
    48. Progressive Voice, Myanmar
    49. Psychological Responsiveness NGO, Mongolia
    50. Pusat KOMAS, Malaysia
    51. Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU), Bangladesh
    52. Strengthening Human Rights and Peace Education in ASEAN/Southeast Asia (SHAPE-SEA)
    53. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM), Malaysia
    54. Synergy (Social Harmony Organization), Myanmar
    55. Taiwan Association for Human Rights (TAHR), Taiwan
    56. The Alliance of Independent Journalists Indonesia (AJI), Indonesia
    57. Think Centre, Singapore
    58. Women Peace Network, Myanmar
    59. Women’s Rehabilitation Centre (WOREC), Nepal
    60. Yayasan Sekretariat Anak Merdeka Indonesia (SAMIN), Indonesia


    About FORUM-ASIA:


    The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) is a  regional network of 81 member organisations across 21 Asian countries, with consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, and consultative relationship with the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights. Founded in 1991, FORUM-ASIA works to strengthen movements for human rights and sustainable development through research, advocacy, capacity-development and solidarity actions in Asia and beyond. It has sub-regional offices in Geneva, Jakarta, and Kathmandu. www.forum-asia.org


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    [1] https://www.forum-asia.org/?p=33176

    [2] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-54573349

    [3] https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/CCPR/LLW_Guidance.pdf

    [4] https://www.khaosodenglish.com/politics/2020/10/19/govt-orders-censorship-of-4-media-sites-reports-say/

    [5] https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/10/19/police-in-thailand-to-investigate-media-over-protests-coverage


    For a pdf version of this statement please click here.